Bearded Collie Dog History, Health And Care

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Introduction Of Bearded Collie Dog

The Bearded Collie, also known as the Hairy Mou’ed Collie, the Highland Collie, the Mountain Collie, the Hairy Mountain Dog or simply the Beardie, is one of Britain’s oldest dog breeds. They were introduced to the United States in the late 1950’s, but it was not until 1967 that the first litter of Bearded Collies was officially born in this country. The Bearded Collie Club of America was founded in 1969. The breed became eligible to be shown in the Miscellaneous class in American Kennel Club dog shows in 1974. The AKC Stud Book was opened to Beardie registrations in 1976, and the breed became officially part of the Working Group in 1977. In 1983, Bearded Collies joined the newly-formed AKC Herding Group.

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 40-60 lbs
  • Height: 20-26 in
  • Coat: Very long, requires grooming
  • Temperament: Friendly, confident, and companionable
  • Lifespan: 12-14 Years

The ideal adult height for a Bearded Collie is between 20 and 22 inches at the withers. Height over or under the standard is to be severely penalized in the breed. Beardies have beautiful long double coats which require significant attention and grooming. They need to be brushed and cleaned on a regular basis, or their beautiful fur can become tangled and matted. They are quick and agile dogs, and for their size they have a uniquely graceful gait. They need exercise and attention more so than many other breeds, as they are exuberant, energetic and high-spirited. These dogs are uniformly bouncy, bubbly and boisterous, but can be stubborn and strong-willed as well.

Bearded Collie Breed Quick Facts

Adaptability3/5
Affection Level 4/5
Apartment Friendly 3/5
Barking Tendencies 3/5
Cat Friendly 3/5
Child Friendly 4/5
Dog Friendly4/5
Exercise Need 4/5
Grooming Needs 3/5
Health Issues 2/5
Intelligence 4/5
Playfulness4/5

Bearded Collies – Appearance & Grooming

Appearance

Bearded Collies are descendents of and have a strong resemblance to the Old English Sheepdog. They are medium sized, agile dogs with shaggy coats and perpetually wagging tails. Beardies have broad heads, short muzzles and long coats that form “beards” under the chin. Their coat color can change many times throughout their life thanks to a “fading” gene, though dogs who do not carry this gene stay the same color from puppyhood into old age. Their eyes are wide-set and expressive, and according to the AKC standard, “a bright inquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed.”

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Size and Weight

Bearded Collies stand from 20 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh in between 45 and 55 pounds. Females are usually slightly smaller than their male counterparts.

Coat and Color

Bearded Collies developed a soft, thick undercoat and a flat, shaggy outer coat to protect them from the harsh weather of Scotland. Their long hair is naturally parted down their back and falls symmetrically across both sides. They got their name from the long, flowing hair that grows on the lower portion of their face.

Beardies are all born black, blue, brown or fawn and some may have white markings. Those dogs who carry a “fading” gene develop lighter coats as they get older, eventually fading back to a lighter color. So, a black puppy may actually grow into a gray dog who then matures further into a sliver coat. Brown puppies can lighten from a deep chocolate to a lighter, sandy tone. Those Beardies without the “fading” gene will stay the same color throughout life. Their white markings occur on the face, the head, chest, legs, neck or tip of the tail. Some dogs develop tan markings over the eyes, ears, checks and tail.

Grooming Needs

Bearded Collies require weekly brushing (at a minimum) to maintain their coats and to keep tangles and mats from forming. Some owners find that spraying the coat with a conditioning spray keeps grooming sessions manageable. It can take about an hour to properly brush a Beardie. Some owners opt to trim the dog’s hair as they find brushing a long haired dog to be time consuming and intimidating.

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Bearded Collies shed year round and more heavily at the change of seasons. During this time, brushing will probably be required several times a week. They also require frequent brushing as they lose their “puppy coats” when they are between 9 and 18 months old.

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Bearded Collie – History & Health

History

The original history of this humble herding breed has largely been lost to history. However, photographs of the breed date back to the 1770’s. There are several theories about the origin of this breed. Some think it began as a cross between the Scotch Collie and the Bobtail, or Old English Sheepdog, although this is unlikely. Some think that the Beardie descended from the shaggy-coated Polish Lowland Sheepdog and/or the Old Welsh Grey, which may now be extinct. Others put the Beardie’s ancestors as the Icelandic Dog or the Polski Owczarek Nizzinny.

Regardless of its origins, the popularity of the Beardies began in Scotland at the end of the Victorian era, where they were prized as both working and competition show dogs. With the advent of World War I, the breed almost became extinct. By the 1930’s, there apparently were no kennels breeding show Bearded Collies in Great Britain. Fortunately, the shepherds in Scotland continued to highly value and breed their Beardies during this time.

After World War II, several breeders in Britain began to breed Beardies again for show purposes. The Bearded Collie Club of Britain was founded in 1955, and in 1959 the Kennel Club of England allowed Beardies to be shown. Thereafter, the popularity of this breed began to steadily increase.

Beardies were introduced in the United States in the late 1950’s, and they were approved by the American Kennel Club in the late 1970’s as part of the Working Group. They joined the Herding Group in 1983. Perhaps the crowning moment for this breed came in 1989, when a Bearded Collie won Best in Show at Crufts.

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Health

The average life span of the Bearded Collie is 12 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, autoimmune disorders, congenital elbow luxation, eye problems, hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.

Bearded Collie – Tempermanent & Personality

Personality

The Bearded Collie is one of Great Britain’s most ancient breeds. This shaggy, humble herding dog is still prized by shepherds because it is smart, strong, focused, agile, and willing to put in a good day’s work. Butchers and cattlemen/cattlewomen in Great Britain and elsewhere also value their assistance in herding and moving cantankerous cattle.

Beardies are happy dogs, with an adorable, inquisitive personality. They bond firmly with their people but are not particularly possessive or protective. They are attentive, stable and self-confident, and should show no signs of shyness, fearfulness or aggression.

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Activity Level

Beardies are active, athletic animals. They have been bred for centuries to be persistent and tireless, and therefore they normally do not flourish without a regular job to do. They probably are not the best choice for apartment-dwellers with full-time jobs outside of the home, unless daily dog-walkers are part of the picture.

There are a multitude of activities that Beardies enjoy. With their intelligence and energy, a busy Beardie is a happy Beardie. They can excel in agility and in the conformation ring. Herding can be an enjoyable pursuit for both dog and handler. Many Bearded Collies have been certified as therapy dogs and regularly visit hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. This can be a rewarding experience for owners as well as dogs, and perhaps especially for the patients. Beardies seem to thrive with this type of attention.

Trainability

Bearded Collies are trainable and thrive with obedience, agility, herding, utility and/or other performance tasks. Their enthusiastic personality makes them stand out in the conformation show ring as well. Obedience training can be a wonderful performance activity for both owner and dog. However, Beardies do have an independent spirit that can make them challenging to train. They are easily bored, so keeping the training interesting is important. When done with patience and good attitude, the results of training Bearded Collies can be incredibly rewarding.

Photo Library of Bearded Collie Dog

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